High Tone Son of a Bitch’s Paul Kott: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

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Desert-rock vets High Tone Son of a Bitch have found members and collaborators in bands including Noothgrush, Kalas, Hammers of Misfortune, Melvins, Hawkwind, Neurosis, High on Fire, Sleep, Necrot, the Skull and more. The Oakland, California, collective recently dropped a new EP, Wicked Threads!, as well as a double-album compilation of all their EPs to date — from the early Aughts to today — aptly titled Lifecycles: EPs of HTSOB via stoner-doom mainstay Tee Pee Records. (You can pick up a copy of it here.) We caught up with founding member Paul Kott to find out what five albums made him the musician that he is today. He highlighted some great LPs.

Captain Beyond – Self-Titled

Fucking awesome band, and one of the most perfect records there is. Larry Reinhardt Lee Dorman, the guitar and bass player from from Iron Butterfly, joined up with Johnny Winter’s drummer Bobby Caldwell and Rod Evans, Deep Purple’s original vocalist, to form the Voltron of psychedelic hard-rock bands in 1970 or 1971. The debut was actually released in ’71, and it’s just back to back killer from end to end. The tunes bleed into each other with themes of war and loss, just masterfully done stuff. This is a record that has echoing themes, lyrics and melodic lines that recur in multiple songs, which I just absolutely love.

Roky Erickson and the Aliens – I Think of Demons\The Evil One

I got to see Roky play what I was told was his second show after many years down due to his struggles with mental issues. It was during SXSW in 2006, and I was there with Kalas on tour. We played the same stage as Roky, because he played the same “Vice Kills Texas” party we did for one of our multiple shows at that festival. Kalas had to play another show a few blocks away, and originally our set times interfered. The Vice people moved the set times so that Roky played a bit later, just so I could see the show. So I got to see the whole show, and it was by far one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Roky was just stoked, and the backing band were the original lineup who played on this record. In my opinion, this album is the best stuff Roky ever did, the production by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s bass player Stu Cook is fucking incredible. The stories of how this album got made are unbelievable — it’s just a stew of fucked-up drug prohibition laws, a fucked-up mental health system, and guys just trying to be free and give the world their soul in musical form. This album has no weak spots.

Can – Soundtracks

I found this Can record, Soundtracks, in a dollar bin at a record store when I was like 16, back when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. I had no idea who Can were, but I thought the cover was cool, and it was a buck, so I bought it. This record seriously changed my life. I still listen to it regularly, along with the rest of the early Can stuff, from Monster Movie through Future Days. I like this album because it was the bridge between Monster Movie and an album people in the know tend to mention A LOT more often, Tago Mago. Because it bridges the period between vocalists, it features vocals from both Malcom Mooney, who really was cool — especially on the song “Yoo Doo Right” — and the inimitable Damo Suzuki, who was just totally fucked up on psychedelics and absolutely ruled the universe during his three albums with Can. Can has been one of my favorite bands ever since I first put this record on so many years ago and got my mind blown.

Soundgarden – Ultramega OK

Ultramega OK. Louder Than Love. Badmotorfinger. Everything Soundgarden ever did rules, but those first three records are just a holy trinity for me. I love the fucked-upness of this [album], the interplay between the incredible vocals, the punk-meets-metal hard-rock riffs, and the Kim Thayil “fuck you” anti-leads and ripping feedback. So awesome. I play a Guild s-300 and s-100 guitar largely because of that dude. Rules.

Scorpions – In Trance

Ah, early Scorps. Uli Roth, please come save us with your weird moonstone guitar and moccasins. For me, Scorpions is all about the Uli Roth era, from Virgin Killer through Fly to the Rainbow … or if you count live stuff, the Tokyo Tapes. The title track is my favoritest tune from my favoritest Scorps record. It’s a dark power ballad, a format Scorpions pretty much invented, that delves into suicide, despair, and coping.